SHEBA THE MISSISSIPPI QUEEN
Sheba was born Martha Booker with twin sister Mary Booker in Sunflower Mississippi. Sheba learned to sing the blues while her sister fell into her father's footsteps singing gospel music. Their father Leroy Booker a gospel singer that traveled all over the south selling insurance; he was call the singing insurance man.
The cotton fields, and the church, that's where Sheba started singing. Sheba's family was sharecroppers barely making it, when Sheba was 12 years old her mom left for Florida in search of opportunities, and later returned to get Sheba and her brothers and sisters.
They all came to South Florida in a Migrants Worker Bus. The family started working in the tomatoes, bean fields, and lime groves in Homestead Florida. There were many other people that had left the Delta in search of a new life. The work was very hard but singing helped them make it through the day; often hands bleeding from the thorns on the lime trees and running from the snakes in the fields. It was very painful.
Sheba formed a group, she named The Grove Girls. They would sing in all the fields and on the bus on their way to and from work. Years later her family moved from Homestead to Miami. Sheba met musician Freddie Nelson, she teamed up with Freddie and together they moved to New York. Freddie and Sheba forming a group called The Swingers. Freddie and Sheba did their first recording joined by one of New York Big Bands. In the Big Apple where Sheba had the opportunity to meet with Red Fox, Flip Wilson, Arthur Prysock, and Carmen McCray.
In New York Sheba was introduced to the sultry sounds of Billie Holiday and fell in love with her music; that why you can hear the flavoring of Billie in some of her songs. The Swingers performed in places such as Under the Stairs" Jimmy Ryan’s Village Gate" and The Library Club. After fifteen years of abuses treatment from Freddie both mental and physical, with pain in her heart Sheba had to move on.
Sheba returned to Miami and teamed up with Yosiah Israel who was a keyboard player, he immediately fell in love with her voice and together they produced numerous original songs. Sheba and Yosiah were jazzy performers and were able to be seen at clubs like, Top of the Home, Supper club, in Hollywood Florida, Emilio in Davie Florida where Shaba had a chance to present her one of Billie Holiday styles. One night Sheba remembers a fan giving her two hundred dollars to sing Good Morning Heartache.
After leaving Mississippi Sheba did not sing the blues, she was ashamed of coming from a state that was so hard on black people. In those days when you said you were from the Delta, people would make fun of you and call you country. Yosiah convince Sheba about the Blues, little did he know that he was taking her right back to her Mississippi roots. Once more she had to leave another man because of mental and physical abuses and pain in her heart.
Sheba found great enjoyment listen to BB King, Koko Taylor, Jimmie Reed, Etta James, and all the great Delta singers (including Elvis) Sheba started singing with Wild Rob Moore Blues Band, singing at a club called the Poor House, the owner Bob wanted her to sing at the Ft. Lauderdale Blues Fest, this is where Sheba met Ken Minahan he like her voice and took over putting a band behind her called The Rhythm Kings.
Sheba and The Rhythm Kings went all over, from the Florida Keys ,all the way back to Mississippi where she did a live radio performance singing Billie Holiday's famous song Strange Fruit. Shortly after Sheba produced the Miss Good -n-Plenty CD, it receives some airtime on DMX Blues station. There has always been growth in pain for her after five successful years it was the end of Sheba and The Rhythm Kings. Sheba survived it picked up her tracks and started doing a singles at parties, clubs, and hotels.
After the breakup with the Rhythm Kings she tried other bands, True Blue Band, where she pickup some new songs that on her new CD. Sheba has her own band The Soul Kings. Sheba has taken control of her life, and music and doing her own things, she is in charge, and it showed in her new CD, Butter on My Rolls.
Some fascinated fan once told her you must sing and keep on singing so that people can see the living miracle of God in you.
I GIVE THINKS, TO THE MEN THAT GAVE ME THE BLUES.